Guatemala Documentary

Project Description

Guatemala Documentary

Project Title
Guatemala Documentary
Project Description
Our RAGP project will be a feature 75 minute documentary on the underlying causes of the border crisis. Here’s the intro to the proposal:

As a former Peace Corps volunteer who began service in Bolivia around the time Che Guevara arrived in the jungles of Santa Cruz (1967-69), I along with many other returned volunteers have watched in horror as successive Latin American governments —particularly in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and most all Central American countries—repressed, undermined and often removed democratic governments, often with the US government support. In 1954 the CIA helped overthrow the democratically elected President, Jacobo Arbenz, who was replaced by a succession of repressive dictators. All progressive initiatives—expanded rural education programs, health care initiatives, land reform—were abandoned . . . . The seeds to post World War II US policies in Latin America were planted by the Dulles brothers during the Cold War years, roughly 1950 to the end of the Communist period when the Iron Curtain fell. During the Cold War, the threat to US Corporate interests also had a sweeping influence on US foreign policy. United Fruit Company, for example, kept a close watch on the Arbenz government’s land re-distribution efforts which ultimately became part of the confluence of events that resulted in US/CIA intervention in 1954 that triggered a civil war that lasted nearly 40 years. Tens of thousands of lives were lost; many were Guatemala’s youngest, brightest, most idealistic . . . . Times have changed. Endemic poverty created by successive dysfunctional governments have left a poor working and agricultural sector desperate to find paying work. Climate change, corruption, inadequate educational opportunities, weak infrastructure—these are undoubtedly precipitating reasons . . . . How might US foreign policy learn from past mistakes, encourage peer-to-peer community development programs, and join other nations in an effort to better the lives of the Guatemalan people? We have gathered a production team to explore reasons why so many—in desperation—are leaving some regions of this remarkably beautiful country, and why others, in more progressive towns and villages, are choosing to stay—and prosper.

Project Description Excerpt
Through interviews with indigenous Mayan and Ladino Guatemalans, artisans, religious leaders, historians, writers, US government and NGO workers, Guatemala will explore the tumultuous history of this Central American country.
Project Contact Name
Hal Rifken
Project Contact Email
Preferred Language
Project URL (website)
Project Categories
Project Location
21 Glenwood Ave.

Leonia, New Jersey
United States
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Project Information
Project Time Frame
2 years
Rotary District
Club Name
Rotary Club of the Palisades–NJ
Project Resources
Currently we have $4000.00 in seed money donations ($2000 from our NJ club, $2000 from a Phoenix, AZ donation). We are seeking $10,000 additional seed money to cover current and anticipated production costs (an upcoming trip to Guatemala to film interviews and Mayan community life for a fund-raising video, editor costs for a trailer, hiring a fundraiser to oversee grants and crowdfunding initiatives).

Anticipated cost for the final documentary: $150-200K.

We will be meeting with a Rutgers University Film professor and her students for active participation in pre-production (website development, fund raising), production and post production. The Rutgers film professor has extensive experience filming in Guatemala.
Is there a Global Grant for this project?
Individuals in Phoenix, Denver and California (TBD).
Images – Photos